A new website called Report Hate, launched in the wake of last week's upset presidential election, has fielded more than 435 reports of hate incidents in the last week ranging from racist graffiti to assaults.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is spearheading the initiative, monitors more than 1,500 domestic hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi movement. This is the first time the nonprofit has generated an open call for hate incidents—a direct response to Donald Trump's election, and a campaign characterized by explicitly racist, sexist and homophobic rhetoric, not to mention promises to ban and deport minority groups.
According to the SPLC, New York State ranks among those with the most reported incidents so far, with 26 reported as of Tuesday. California tops the list with 51 reported incidents. Texas has 31, Washington State 27, and Oregon and Pennsylvania 19 each.
"Since Donald Trump won the election we've seen an alarming number of hate-based incidents occur throughout the nation, some of which are no doubt stemming from Trump's hate-filled campaign," said Heidi Beirich, director of SPLC's Intelligence Project. "We've collected more than 435 such incidents since the election—truly a frightening number."
Lecia Brooks, director of outreach for the SPLC, spoke with WNYC yesterday, when the number was still hovering around 300 reported incidents. This "is more than the past six months combined," she said.
Brooks stressed that the reports are unverified, and that the SPLC will be working in the coming days and weeks to verify them using police and media reports. However, she dismissed the rightwing media position that such incidents are being blown out of proportion in the press. "People are really in danger," she said.
In New York City, the SPLC has seven reported incidents to date, including several at city universities. According to Brooks, the campus backlash might be attributable to Trump, and may also be a response to last fall's upswell of Black Lives Matter support at schools across the country. "We think folks became emboldened during the [presidential] campaign," she said. "Now that [Trump's] won, young people, especially young people, feel entitled to say what they have been feeling all along."
In the immediate aftermath of last week's election, three students at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering—one black, one Latina, one Muslim—said a fellow student called them racial slurs, arguing it was fair game because "Donald Trump is president now." That same day, Muslim students at NYU Tandon found the door to their on-campus prayer room vandalized by Trump supporters. And over the weekend, four dorm rooms at the New School were found vandalized with swastikas.
On the state level, Governor Cuomo has already launched two investigations into alleged hate incidents: one at SUNY Geneso, where graffiti of a swastika and the word “Trump" appeared in a residence hall, and another in Wellsville, New York, where a softball dugout was allegedly covered with "Make America White Again" tags and a spray-painted swastika.
Today, Cuomo launched a toll-free hotline to report such incidents. The number, (888) 392-3644, will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC, conducted an interview with Dan Rather making the case that Trump's affiliation with Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon has raised the stakes, as Breitbart "has become essentially... the most important platform for the alternative right" and is "essentially a kind of racial nationalist position presented as news."
"The alt-right basically is a rebranding of white supremacy for the digital age," he added.
In an interview last week, Anti-Defamation League Policy Director Etzion Neuer told Gothamist that his organization has also been fielding many reports of hate incidents since the election. He said that in the aftermath of such a contentious election, increased media interest might contribute to the uptick in hate incident reports. "People might report incidents they might not otherwise, and the media starts reporting on these incidents that might not otherwise have felt newsworthy," he said.
"That's not faulting media," he added. "But media plays a role in that. It can be positive, but it can also lead to what appears to be an artificial rise [in hate incidents]. We are extraordinarily careful trying to ascertain the veracity of each report."
You can report a hate incident to the SPLC here.